Storytelling through emotive lyrics with Korby

By Alice Haldane

27 May 2024

Photo by Rhys Williams

Based in London’s North-West, 24 year old, singer-songwriter Korby doesn’t shy away from authentic lyricism. Touching on unrequited love and the hope and despair of life, his reflective debut EP, I’ll explain later, came out back in March, and it has resonated with so many.

Korby displays personal feelings and experiences through storytelling lyrics which speak his mind, blending together vulnerability with a mix of soothing sounds. You’ve got everything from RnB hooks, heart melting piano loops, and touches of indie and folk-like melodies- all rolled into one. 

Throughout his 7-track EP, Korby narrates stories that delve into his fundamental beliefs about human connection. He employs his rich understanding of organic sounds to musically explore his own concepts of the ideal expressions of emotion, capturing everything from exhilarating highs to the chaotic lows of life. 

Korby took us through the production process of shaping an EP, what worked and what didn’t, whilst delving into the powerful impact lyrics have on listeners and artists themselves.

Hey Korby, tell us a bit about yourself

Yeah, so I started playing piano when I was six, I had lessons for a good few years, then I eventually picked up the guitar, just learning on YouTube. 2019 is when I first decided to make my own music. I released my first song in 2022. Since then I’ve just been chipping at it to a point where I was happy with the sound and felt as if it represented my taste as well as it could.

Can you describe your sound and what inspired it?

I listened to a lot of jazz when I was younger, but also to a lot of rap. So it’s just a bit of everything that I listened to, spanning from jazz, to more rap to pop to a lot of like, I used to like the singer-songwriter bands like The Script.

The three main points of my music are the musicality and the expression of jazz. We have the rawness of rap mixed with the, I guess, storytelling of a singer-songwriter type musician or artist.

Yeah, I can really see that in your songs now you’ve said it. Your songs also evoke so much emotion, and the way you write makes them so easy to relate to. What’s your writing process like?

There’s that one line which kind of sums up the whole song. And as soon as I get to that line, I kind of build a song all around that from before it and after it. But it’s a matter of finding that one line. But sometimes it just lends itself to it.

Music is such a weird thing, you can’t really control how it gets made, or what happens to make it come out the way it does. That’s always a good indication when there is that kind of spark, or that that one bit of the tune, whether that’s a melody, or like an actual lyric that you’re holding on to, that kind of makes it worthwhile.

Yeah for sure. Your lyrics are very authentic and raw, was the writing process hard?

Funnily enough, no. Everything that’s come out has been, I guess, I wouldn’t say easy, but it’s not been a chore to write any of those songs.

It’s the kind of thing when the song allows itself to be made. The lyrics aligned. The arrangement made sense. Looking back after making them, I thought, oh that one was kind of deep, where did that come from? But in the moment when making it, it’s just a lyric that just came out. There’s been challenges with the actual creation and making the song make sense after it’s done.

Like moulding it all together?

Yeah, just like sanding it down.

With sanding down, because there’s a lot of vulnerability in your lyrics, do you tend to change them slightly after?

I don’t change the lyrics a lot of time. I prefer to write it all out. Get a feel for it, what it sounds like going into versus and chorus, then I like to do the whole song in one take. And then do that a couple times.

I hate going back and doing it again, we’ve tried to do that. For example, Feel my Face, I recorded on a shitty mic. But I recorded it perfectly. If that makes sense. I couldn’t have done a better take than that. So even though in the studio with a better mic, and all the equipment after we recorded it again. It just feels like a different song now.

Sometimes the whole energy of the song is held in that first time you record it.

How important is that authenticity as an artist when you’re starting out?

Yeah, I would say so. That way, you get people to resonate more with how you are as a person. It does make a difference. I feel like people see the difference too. I’m not sure what they actually see. But you can definitely feel when someone’s being true to themselves or when someone isn’t being as true when it comes to lyrics and just how they like the manoeuvre.

Definitely. I also heard one of the songs in the EP, To Let Go was difficult to finish. Why?

It was difficult because I liked the first take of the song and I didn’t want to change it. We went through so many different variations. We went through a variation where it was mad upbeat, a pop arrangement, then we stripped it all back down.

This was kind of the lesson that showed me sometimes you’ve got to let the song be how it is and allow it to take its own shape. But out of every single one it is my favourite song.

That’s the one that holds a special place in your heart?

Definitely. Yeah. I feel like it’s the song that represents me probably the most. If I was to tell anyone to listen to any of my music, I would say that one first.

I was going to ask if there was a song you are most proud of?

That one, or My Garden.

That’s the song my brother showed me first. It’s a really really beautiful song. What is the meaning behind it?

Thank you. The whole chorus and the whole message of the song is like listen, there’s a safe space for you. Or like, there’s a place where you can just be yourself and cultivate in whatever way you want. You can go back to that place whenever you need to. And if you don’t have that place, that place I’m describing is my garden- that’s where I feel most safe. And I’d love to invite whoever needs that space, to that garden. It sounds super airy, fairy but there’s gonna be challenges, theres gonna be dark ups and downs.

And that’s kind of the message of the song. I still don’t know what that song means, I’ll be honest. I know what the lyrics say, but I don’t know what they’re supposed to mean. But when you listen to it, it should make you feel what I’m trying to say if that makes sense. Be something that people can listen to and attach their own lives to.

It must be so nice speaking to people and hearing what they think and how they interpret your music.

Yeah, because at the end of the day once I make it and I put it out, It’s not really for me, it’s for whoever’s listening to it now, and they can take what they want from it. And if it means something to them, then I guess that’s my job done as an artist.


There’s this fine line between journaling and songwriting. Do you think writing down lyrics serves as an emotional outlet?

Yeah, and I don’t realise it until after. I’ll be talking about something that’s happening, and I don’t realise I’m talking about it until the songs are done. I’m like oh shit, that’s what was happening at the time. Even ‘my garden’ as an example, I’m talking about my garden, but there’s an actual real life parallel story to it that fits almost perfectly. I’m like, damn, I didn’t realise that I was doing that until after.

It is a way of me expressing it and letting it out and dealing with whatever’s going on. And I guess that’s been one way I’m able to do that- whether it’s conscious or not.

It’s powerful

Thank you.

What artists inspire your sound?

Bob Marley. Madonna, Chief Keef and Pop Smoke in the last two days. Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, umm, Kendrick Lamar, Dijon, MkGee. Pretty mixed up.

A fusion of sounds, wow. So what’s Korby’s next step?

More music, I guess, delving deeper into what I’ve started with the current EP, that’s probably the plan, and give people stuff to dance to, I don’t have enough danceable music.

Okay, so you wanna turn the beat up?

Yeah, literally (laughs) turn the beat up. Turning it up, just giving people something to jump up and down to. My EP was a bit mellow and introspective and this next bit of music, I’d love it to be a bit more, alright these are your problems, now forget them and…dance. That’s all the deep stuff in your life, calm, now enjoy yourself a little bit.

Lastly, whats that song that’s always playing in your headphones when you’re on the move?

Right now. There’s Merci beaucoup, by Pop Smoke, and White Heat, Madonna. That’s either one or two of the moods I’m in.

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